I knew when I first made the eggplant meatballs I knew I wanted to make my own marinara to serve with them. Jim isn’t a huge fan of tomatoes but fortunately he’s a fan of me, and I LOVE tomatoes. When I was younger my family members couldn’t keep tomatoes on their vines. I would go around and under the guise of helping them “pick” their ripe tomatoes pop them in my mouth.
The first time I realized what an incredible difference growing and eating your own food makes is when I had my first tomato from the garden. Even the little cherry tomatoes have such a full, sweet and just such an amazing tomato-y taste. You can practically taste the sun in them. Store bought tomatoes don’t taste half as good anymore, especially when you taste test them side by side.
You can imagine how excited I was when Jim told me he was dedicating a large portion of the annuals to tomatoes and how even more excited I was when we got our first tomato!! And yes, I did promptly eat it.
Quotes from the Farmer
When you start your own backyard vegetable garden the first question to ask is what do you use the most of, how can you use it, and how do you keep it throughout the year. It is important to plant things you don’t mind eating everyday for weeks on end, and then having even more. When choosing what to plant, Jenny was quick to identify tomatoes as a key annual. The deal was I grow as many tomatoes as possible, and she will figure out what to do with them. What’s good about homemade marinara sauce, is even though I don’t eat tomatoes right off the vine they can still be transformed, stored for long periods of time, and enjoyed throughout the year. We plan to start saving and preserving via cold storage, freezing, canning, and pickling. Sauce was a good place to start.
So when Jim had to travel and was leaving a fair number of tomatoes untouched I offered to bring them home and create marinara sauce.
I used this recipe as a guide to my marinara adventure but of course I tweaked it for my own benefit. I didn’t have fresh herbs around since I was at my own apartment but I have plenty of dried. I’d like to try it with fresh, so I’ll let you know how that goes!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: about 1 quart
4 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbl dried basil
1 ½ tsp dried parsley
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 fresh ground sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
Cut tomatoes into chunks. Alternatively, you may pulse them a few times in a food processor. Set aside.
In a large pot set over low heat, sauté minced garlic in olive oil low and slow until softened and fragrant, add crushed red pepper flakes. Add tomatoes and juices to pot, put herbs in on top, raise heat to medium, and bring to a simmer, stir. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
When sauce has thickened and reduced. Stir in sugar, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings. Let the sauce cool a bit and transfer the sauce using a ladle into a blender or food processor and blend to desired thickness.
This is a recipe that is all about the tasting while you go, taste throughout the whole making process. It’s really neat to taste how the sauce evolves. The amount of sugar and balsamic vinegar depends on how acid your tomatoes are. So again, taste, taste, taste!